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Many of us aren’t bona fide, born-and-raised Dallas-ites; we’re Dallasites by relocation. As such, we live in a city full of experts on other places. Alain Belief, president of Scor Reinsurance Company and a native Parisian (as in France, not Texas), is one such expert. He’s learned the wiles and ways of our city and has some insightful observations as a Parisian gone Texan.

If there’s one thing Bellet can claim, it’s knowledge of authentic French cuisine. He serves mostly French food at home and says there are only two authentic forms of cooking: Chinese and, of course, French-all others are mere variations on the originals.

To Bellet, the best French restaurant in town is Enjolie at Las Colinas’ Mandalay Four Seasons Hotel. Other good choices, he says, are the Mansion and Calluaud, though he says the Mansion is a bit overdone. “In New York City, people go to a restaurant to be seen. I am French, and I just like to eat.” All things considered, he says L’Ambiance has good French cuisine, but definitely lacks I’ambiance.

Bellet, who moved to Dallas in 1974, loves the arts and compares Dallas in the 20th century to Florence, Italy during the 15th century. He says that where there is affluence in a city, the arts will follow. Such is the case here. Bellet says that local arts support has made Dallas a cultural center rather than the “large suburb” it was when he arrived.

The thing Bellet misses most about life in Paris is the pedestrian atmosphere. He says Dallasites need to walk, not jog. He never goes north of Loop 12 and only shops in an indoor shopping mall once a year. In his spare time, he enjoys browsing at the Man-dalay Canal Shops and loves to rummage at garage sales, estate sales and antique shops. Marty’s Gourmet is his favorite place to shop for fine French foods.

The closest thing to French landscape in Texas, he says, is either Fredericksburg (80 miles west of Austin) or the front yard of his Turtle Creek home. Dallasites, he says are “very friendly,” their one flaw being that they don’t enjoy “healthy” disagreements. He says he’s accustomed to having dinner parties in which guests shout at one another about political, religious and cultural differences. In Dallas, he says, that’s not acceptable. He thinks Dallas is a bit of a “luxurious ghetto,” where Rolex watches, mink coats and Mercedeses abound.

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